As it unfolded, the decision to move the championship to September was, according to the U.S.G.A., the creation of a new TV deal for the event. In June, NBC Universal, which launched N.F.L. games, the rights to the U.S. Open and all U.S.G.A. championships, from Fox.
In mid-afternoon on April 5, the heads of the seven governing golf organizations met on a phone call for what, Davis said, was about the 40th time since March. It was agreed that the U.S. Open at Winged Foot would take the mid-September spot vacated by the British Open. While that was the plan, it was still considered conditional.
On the same day, the New York State death toll from the coronavirus soared above 4,000, although Governor Andrew M. Cuomo pointed to early indications that the crisis may ease.
Larry Schwartz, Cuomo's former chief of staff who rejoined the governor's government during the Covid-19 crisis, first contacted the USGA in May, not long after Cuomo announced his support for professional sports to return to New York if the number of virus cases in the state declined and if the sports adhered to strict safety protocols. Schwartz had worked with the U.S.G.A. the last time the U.S. Open on Winged Foot took place, in 2006.
But it wasn't until July that Schwartz's dialogue with the U.S.G.A. was intensified when, along with Dr. Howard A. Zucker, the public health commissioner, revised the safety guidelines established for the US Open, which were modeled on the guidelines in place during the PGA Tour since its restart in mid-June.
Schwartz told Cuomo that the USGA's security protocols not only met state guidelines, but also went one step further by insisting that the hundreds of volunteers needed to run the championship, would come entirely from the New York area. Usually US Open volunteers come from all over the world. In addition, at Winged Foot, no one would be allowed on the premises without first passing a coronavirus test.
There was one sticking point before the state would approve the event: the U.S.G.A. hoped that a limited number of fans, between 2,000 and 5,000, would still be able to attend the tournament daily, but Cuomo wanted all recurring sporting events to be fan-free.